Love is powerful, and we love our scholars. But it isn’t enough.
We also have to challenge them, work hard for them, fight for them relentlessly, and believe that all kids are capable of greatness. That is what we do here at Achievement First.
From the very beginning, we set out to equip our students to perform at the same high levels as their peers in wealthy communities. This goes for both their short-term achievement scores and, more importantly, long-term life outcomes like college graduation. Our students have big goals. It is our job to help ensure they achieve them.
We make this happen through our strong academics and a focus on college, and through our passionate teachers who go above and beyond in their commitment to fostering a love of learning inside and outside of the classroom. Here is how we do it.
We develop great teachers and leaders.
This is the #1 way we deliver on our promise to students. Our principals participate in a two-year residency before leading a school. Our new teachers start strong with five weeks of summer professional development. Every teacher and leader has a coach who provides individualized feedback and support (and we have some of the lowest coach to teacher ratios around).
We join forces on everything we do to be our best for kids.
Our world-class curriculum prepares students for college.
Our name says it: we are focused on outstanding student achievement. We have a rigorous curriculum designed by a team of content experts. Our teachers regularly analyze student data to drive our daily instruction and long-term planning. The curriculum is based on internationally-benchmarked Common Core standards and geared to true college readiness. For instance, the average AF high school student will take five Advanced Placement classes before they graduate, including a math AP and a science AP.
Our students spend more time learning.
Our scholars benefit from an extended day with additional academic time without short-changing enrichment and physical education. Achievement First students also have a longer than average school year. A recent report by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes showed that our students’ learning is accelerated—their English and math performance was so strong, it was as if they had received more than 57 additional days of instruction in English and more than 120 days in math.
We build strong school cultures.
Our schools are based on high expectations, structure and joy. We work to create schools where all students know they are loved, and all students love learning. You can see it in the rigorous classroom discussions, the moving Morning Circles, and in all of the ways our students celebrate their accomplishments and each other.
We support our alumni through college graduation.
When our students are still in high school, they take daily classes with our college readiness teachers. They do this because they are preparing for the non-academic challenges of college as diligently as they study academic subjects. And after the end of high school? AF provides our alumni with counseling and financial support throughout every step of their college experience. We also learn about how they are doing and gather data that we use to continue to improve college preparation for younger students.